Zak Harding’s May 13 letter to the editor (“Lift COVID rules for Maine kids,” Page A10) is factually incorrect.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that children carry COVID viral loads in their noses and throats in amounts similar to adults and can spread SARS-COV-2 to others. (See the page headed “Information for Pediatric Healthcare Providers” on the CDC website.)

It is true that children between age 1 and 17 typically get less-severe infections, although rare severe cases and deaths still occur. We don’t know the true incidence rate without more widespread testing, but it appears that many children who are asymptomatic are spreading COVID to others in their community.  Until vaccination rates significantly increase, the best weapons against the spread of COVID are masking and social distancing.

There is a famous psychological experiment in which children were seated in front of a marshmallow. They were told they could either eat the one marshmallow now, or wait 15 minutes and get two marshmallows. The kids who were able to wait ended up being more successful and happier later in life.

COVID is “the marshmallow test” writ large in our society. We all hate waiting for things to get better. But if we all follow the CDC recommendations, get vaccinated and protect each other, we get our reward sooner. New Zealand controlled COVID in four weeks!

This is hard work. Mainers are used to hard work. Let’s stay the course and get to the finish line quicker.

Sean McCloy, M.D., MPH, MA
medical director, Integrative Health Center of Maine

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